2017 Infill Home Building Guide

With a move back to urbanism, building in established neighbourhoods is also on the rise. Infill building, as it’s called, offers buyers the chance to build their dream home in an established neighbourhood, closer to downtown.

The benefits to this are two-fold:

1) A brand new house

Character houses are charming to look at, but the bones may be questionable, amenities few, and the size not quite right. When the charm wears off, as it inevitably does, the problems become much more daunting. With a new house, custom built to your specifications, you can have that trouble-free house, with everything precisely how you want it. When you renovate, the most you can hope to get out of your money spent is about 50%– so for every $100 you spend, the max you would get back is $50.

2) An established neighbourhood

For some, new, homogenous neighbourhoods built for commuters just don’t cut it. Established neighbourhoods in the centre of the city (or close to it) offer amenities that new neighbourhoods simply cannot: walking distance to your favourite cafe, diverse housing styles that range in age and type, gorgeous tree-lined streets with neighbours who know everyone by name.

With this new option you have the choice to stop compromising. It is, however, a bit more difficult, merging, as it does, the difficulties with buying a house and building a house.

With a real-estate agent in house, truly talented designers, and a team of construction experts, Van Arbor is perfectly poised to help you fulfill your infill dreams. But, if you’re a DIY type, Van Arbor Homes can provide management consulting to help direct you through the maze of infill buying and building. Contact us for more info.

5 Steps For Your Infill

Infilling is a tricky task, with a variety of factors that have to be carefully planned out to fit together. But, with a little work, and a bit of time, infill housing can be perfect for you and the neighbourhood you plan to build in.

The word infill covers a range of building options: from building on subdivided lots, to tearing down an old house to build your own. What it all boils down to is building your own, new home in an already settled neighbourhood. As with anything you do in an established neighbourhood, things can get tricky.

1) Mortgage approval

Infill Guide - Mortgage Approval

The first step in obtaining your house, whether buying or building, is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Before you even call a realtor, contact a mortgage professional (banker or broker) who will direct you when trying to meet specific guidelines for a home loan. They will make you feel confident in your direction and give you momentum towards the next steps in this guideline. To prove you are a good loan candidate, you have to show all your cards here: proof of income, down-payment source, assets, liabilities, and the oh-so-ominous credit report.

Make sure you factor in upgrades to the sewer and water lines (this can cost $10,000 or more) that may be necessary and the demolition costs (anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000) when you are applying for your mortgage.

All this being said, the earlier you can involve the home builder, the better, as they will give you valuable advice on everything from lot slope and grades, practical design possibilities, to dealing with possible issues like getting services and zoning complications.

Here are five tips on getting your mortgage approved if you’re unfamiliar with the process.

The next steps are where it can get tricky as each step is contingent on the next steps. This is a good time to call Van Arbor as we have plenty of arms to juggle all of the next steps, virtually simultaneously.

2) Find a neighbourhood and lot

Infill Guide - Find Your Neighbourhood and Lot

Because infill lots are surrounded by neighbourhoods that have their own characteristics, it is important to find a lot in the right neighbourhood.

Unlike buying in a developing area, you can’t simply buy any available lot. You have to hunt for a space that is for sale, and within your budget. This means if there is an existing house sitting on the property, it ideally shouldn’t add a lot of equity to the lot, otherwise you’ll lose a lot of value when you tear it down. It also means that if you find your dream lot and it has a heritage house on it, you must fall out of love with the lot or into love with the house.

Much like buying an older house, lots in older neighbourhoods sometimes need a little help – sewer, power and water lines aren’t always up to the load new houses put on them. So make sure you know what you’re getting into before you put name to paper – unforeseen costs can put a damper on this exciting new move.

As an expert home builder, Van Arbor is uniquely qualified to help you through this step. We have a real estate agent on staff to help you find and buy the lot of your dreams.

3) Check neighbourhood restrictions

Infill Guide - Check Neighbourhood Restrictions

While looking for a lot, you should be aware of the architectural requirements and amenities of the neighbourhoods you are looking in. Everything from the style of your house, colour, and size of your lot. London Road for example, has an active community association, which means both an exciting, active community spirit and likewise, a desire to have input on what goes on inside the neighbourhood.

You may rejoice at knowing the neighbourhood you are looking at buying into will have a strong hand guiding it forward, or you may rankle at the thought that your neighbours believe they have input in what your house should look like. Choose wisely when picking your neighbourhood and make sure you truly understand where you want to settle, and who you want to be settled around you.

4) Design to requirements

Infill Guide - Design to Requirements

The lot and neighbourhood you’ve chosen will affect what your house will look like, or perhaps you did it the other way around –designing the house and then finding a lot for it. Whether you design first, or last or concurrently, you want a home builder that’s going to listen to you and work with you on making your dream house.

If you have your lot or neighbourhood picked out, now may be the time to take a walk down the streets where you will live and find out what you really love there. By distilling the parts of the neighbourhood you love into your dream house you’re sure to get your dream house, and fit in nicely with the area around you, which should make your neighbours happy.

And, remember, home builders, like Van Arbor, often have talented designers on staff (we’re particularly proud of ours) who can take your dreams and create something you’ll love. So, unless you’re planning on being the general contractor on your build, now’s the time to start talking with your home builder.

Now comes the good part.

5) Build your home

Infill Guide - Build Your Home

Congratulations, you’re almost there. You’ve found your place, designed your house and can see your dream house in your mind’s eye. Now it’s time to turn back the dirt and bring your dream home to life.

If you haven’t already contacted a builder, then A) you deserve a pat on the back, because that was a lot of work and B) now’s the time (unless you’re a glutton for punishment). It’s time to find subcontractors, pull permits, and (eventually) get your inspections done. If you’re in this on your own and looking to build in Lethbridge, check out the Lethbridge permit and inspection requirements.

If, however, you’re going the easier route, make sure you choose a builder (if you aren’t building it yourself) that knows their stuff.  Don’t just take their word for it – check out their previous work, online reviews, and even schedule a few meetings with different companies to see who suits you the best. This is a big decision, and shouldn’t be left to a bit of online scouting. Get out there, shop around and then you can be rest assured that you’re dream house won’t turn into a nightmare.

We might be biased, but we think Van Arbor is king of your castle when it comes to fitting a house specifically to you. Check out our custom home building process or some more info on infills and give us a call to start building your dream home.

Contact us today for a free consultation or for more information

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